Melvin Van Peebles first film was funded by the French Ministry for Culture. The film caused a stir in Hollywood and, since none of the American studio bosses at the time knew that Melvin Van Peebles was an Afro-American director, the talented French filmmaker was immediately hired to direct another film. With the money promised to him as director of THE WATERMELON MAN, Melvin Van Peebles managed to make SWEET SWEETBACKS BAADASSSSS, in 1971. The film was a hit; it became a legend in Afro-American cinema and Van Peebles was hailed as the father of the blaxploitation film. The feature also marked Melvins son Marios first film role. Mario Van Peebles documentary is his tribute to his father. Van Peebles junior takes a critical look at his fathers career, during which he not only hoodwinked studio bosses, moneymen and studio employees, but also managed to drive to distraction actors and those members of his family he had coerced into working on his films. At the same time, Mario Van Peebles film is also the portrait of a long-forgotten historical era. Gaylene Gould: Most of all, it is a reflection of a particular filmmaking moment, the force of which launched a new black aesthetic, marrying a political agenda with a cultural one. It seems to say: if only such energy existed today.
by Mario Van Peebles
with Mario Van Peebles, Joy Bryant, Nia Long, Khleo Thomas, Ossie Davis